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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21900


Mr McClelland asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 18 September 2003:

What steps has he taken since 11 September 2001 to increase the capability of the Australian Government to (a) monitor individuals suspected of links to terrorism, and (b) identify and investigate people suspected of facilitating terrorist activity through fundraising, logistical support and recruitment.


Mr Ruddock (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Since 11 September 2001, ASIO has received the following additional funding relating to Counter Terrorism:

$48.3 million over four years in 2002-03, and $14.9 million per annum thereafter following 11 September;

$28.5 million over five years in 2002-03, following the Bali attack;

$19.9 million over four years in 2003-03 to further strengthen analysis and liaison capabilities;

$3.6 million to undertake aviation security identification card checking.

Funding provided since 11 September 2001 enabled ASIO to recruit additional resources to undertake investigations and analysis, establish a 24 hour all source monitoring and alert unit, enhance cross-agency CT cooperation, and strengthen its overseas liaison and communication capabilities with the establishment of additional overseas posts. ASIO is further strengthening its capabilities including its border control, critical infrastructure protection and threat assessments.

As stated by the Director-General of Security on 30 April 2003, since 11 September ASIO has received all the additional budget funds it has sought. Its budget has been increased by just over 50% since that time.

ASIO currently has around 680 staff and will be growing over the next two years.

The Government has also passed new legislation to increase the capacity of security and law enforcement agencies to investigate and prevent terrorist activity. In July 2002, five of the six Acts comprising the Commonwealth counter-terrorism legislative package commenced. These were:

the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002 which created a new range of terrorist and terrorist organisation offences.

the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism Act 2002 which aims to prevent the movement of funds for terrorist purposes and to enhance the exchange of information about financial transaction reports within foreign countries.

the Criminal Code Amendment (Suppression of Terrorist Bombings Act) 2002 which creates offences relating to terrorist activities using explosive and lethal devices and gives effect to International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings to which Australia is a signatory.

the Telecommunications Interception Legislation Amendment Act 2002 which allows for the use of telecommunication interception by law enforcement agencies investigating a range of criminal activities, including terrorism.

the Border Security Legislation Amendment Act 2002 which enhances the security of Australia's borders.

The final piece of legislation, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2003 commenced in July 2003. This Act empowers the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to obtain a warrant to detain and question persons who may have information important to the gathering of intelligence in relation to terrorist activity.

The aim of the Act is to ensure Australia is in the best possible position to prevent and deter terrorist activity wherever possible by enhancing ASIO's intelligence capabilities, whilst balancing the need to protect fundamental human rights.